Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Emails without a basis.

Emails without a basis.

Every so often a friend sends me an email about social security for illegal aliens. The average reader has a knee-jerk reaction and signs the petition or forwards the upsetting letter which usually states that a group of non-deserving immigrants will gain substantially from our American generosity by getting free health care or other benefits the rest of us good Americans will never see.

There is never a House or Representatives, Senate, or Executive bill number. There is never a name for the new law or potential legislation. There's only the insinuation for such a thing. And hundreds of outraged Americans sign.

I am always careful to check out the basis for these statements. For instance, during the George W. administration when we were supposed to be building a wall between the US and Mexico, when we had a Republican majority in Congress and a conservative Supreme Court, we were also supposed to write our President to stop him from giving all our money away to illegal aliens.

And people actually believed the administration would do this. That George and Dick had plans to endow all those poor people with health care and considerable funds.

It just goes to show how easily the public is misled. How any propaganda, no matter how ignorant or outrageous, can illicit a posse of outraged vigilantes who never take time to wonder if these hate letters might be total bull.

So when my friend wrote me about his eighty-something parents who read a letter to this effect recently, I wrote him and said these upsetting letters are on par with rhetoric disciples of Adolph Hitler sent around. Lies on top of more lies. Beware of what you read on the internet. All is not true.

In fact, another friend just sent me an email stating that many lipsticks from leading cosmetic companies cause cancer. The email stated a bogus doctor's name and a test for telling if your lipstick could be lethal. All bunk. There is no such doctor, the test doesn't work, and I checked out the information on the internet and discovered that this is another letter based on lies.

So be careful. Just because something's in print, doesn't mean it's true.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Readers Groups

I'm a writer who enjoys reading a variety of books. So when I realized many Americans didn't read and felt inadequate about it, I also noted that many eventually jumped at Oprah's list. I have enjoyed some of her choices. Although her suggestion about reading William Faulkner made me realize that she wasn't in touch with how challenging his works can be, even to a lit student.So I volunteered to facilitate a mystery book group at a local bookstore here in California. Its a lovely small store, not a chain, which hosts a variety of groups. I wanted mine to reflect the idea that reading can be enjoyable. Those of us who've been reading for enjoyment all our lives, as well as in college, grasp the idea that pleasure reading doesn't have to be like eating spinach. It can be fun. We started with THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE by James M. Cain, the author of DOUBLE INDEMNITY and MILDRED PIERCE. The group was great. We laughed, talked, and became very involved in the discussion. Next were reading Gordon Campbell's MISSING WITNESS. I hope the group likes this one, too.

Our Callous Attitudes

Okay, I was sitting at one of my favorite coffee houses today where I often work, and this elderly man dressed neatly in this old-gent getup asked me to donate $3 for an old Norwegian Sailor. I paused for a moment wondering where the old sailor was and which war he'd fought in, when the old gent handed me a tattered brochure as an offering for the money. I handed him a five and he thanked me and moved on. Then I noticed his old white shoes and saw how he'd managed to put himself together and maintain his dignity while actually begging.

The younger guy at the next table, a hip forty-five-year-old with an earring and jeans, when asked by the old gent for money, rudely said "Well, what're you gonna give me?" He then proceeded to give the old man a few choice words until the old man's face turned red.
"I'm sure we'll meet again," the old man said before he gathered up his pamphlets and muddied dignity and fled.

All the cool younger man had to say was, "Sorry, I can't today." Instead, he was rude then laughed about his reaction with a girl at a nearby table.

In these troubled times, why not remember that anyone in this world can lose a job and end up alone and afraid offering pamphlets or chewing gum for enough money to pay for gas or food.

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